Two Pennsylvania hospitals to stop hiring smokers

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LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) – Starting January 1, 2017 those who smoke need not apply at two of Lebanon County’s biggest employers.

Officials with WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital and Philhaven have announced they will no longer hire those who test positive for nicotine.

The move gets the hospitals in line with other WellSpan hospitals in the Midstate and also mirrors a similar policy established by Lancaster General Health.

“Companies today are far more aware of employee health and creating employment in a healthy environment for their employees,” John Kerlish, the owner of Human Resource Management Associates, said.

There are 29 states that ban employers from discriminating against people who use tobacco products. Pennsylvania is not one of them.

“I think that will continue to expand,” Kerlish said. “There are statistics that show that smokers tend to increase cost of health insurance because smoking causes health problems.”

Kerlish wrote the employee handbook and has established hiring practices for more than 250 companies. He said considering some employers spend 25 percent of their costs on health care he wouldn’t be surprised if the policy expands to all sorts of jobs.

“I would say (it could happen) sooner rather than later,” Kerlish said.

The policy by WellSpan Good Samaritan and Philhaven does not apply to those who work at the hospitals before January 1.

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